Well...it started with my dad, as all good animal stories do. Dad loves animals. He has horses, cattle, dogs and a cat. He's tender-hearted with a mischievous streak (like father, like daughter). Together, we've broken a mare from her fear of water and discovered what happens when the tackle box is left open and a Boxer bulldog steals and eats an entire bag of jelly worm lures (they were not pre-hooked, thankfully). Dad taught me what cats do when you put scotch tape on the pads of their paws, and that toads excrete a substance on their skin that will make a Cocker Spaniel foam at the mouth.
Anyway, my dad and my stepmom were visiting the weekend before Christmas, and he was watching the birds visit the feeder just outside my living room window, amazed at the variety of species, when a squirrel came along, climbed up the skinny wrought-iron pole, and hung upside down to get some sunflower seed. This is not unusual. The squirrels often take turns at that feeder, one or two foraging below while a third snacks above.
Dad, having seen a few too many squirrel-proofing-bird-feeder youtube videos (again, like father, like daughter), said, "Hey, you got some Crisco?"
I eyed him and said, "Yeah. Why?"
"Because I've heard that squirrels can't climb up a greased pole. They'll slide right down."
So I gave him a paper towel with a decent-sized scoop of vegetable shortening on it. He went outside and greased the pole, then came back in, chuckling like he does when he's thoroughly enjoying something. You'd have to know my dad to fully appreciate his laugh.
We stood inside the living room and waited for a squirrel. Didn't take long. Here came one, shimmied maybe a foot up the pole, but we didn't get to see it slide back down. When its front paws touched that greasy shortening, it abandoned mission and jumped off the pole, licked its front paws, shook its head, then dragged its feet and mouth through the grass, trying to wipe off the Crisco. Another squirrel came a few minutes later. That one actually ran to a nearby dogwood, wiping its mouth and its paws on the tree's bark. Word must travel fast in Squirreldom, because of the half dozen bushy-tailed rodents we usually have frolicking in our front yard, none tried to climb up that pole. And that was the last of the squirrels on the feeder until today.
Apparently, the recent rain washed off the last of the shortening. I had to re-apply this evening. :-) But in that two and a half weeks, I've probably saved five dollars worth of bird seed.